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Worth a Thousand Words: A Harmonious Housing Cooperative

UW–Madison’s Groves Housing Cooperative was a place for women of different backgrounds to find common ground.

Residents of Groves Housing Cooperative

Groves residents (left to right) Adela Kalvary Owen ’54, Carolyn Konoshima, Marie Cochrane Gadsden PhD’54, and Clarice Wruck Cox ’53, MS’55 are pictured together in 1951. Photo courtesy of UW Archives, S06823.

In the 1940s — a decade of worldwide conflict, discrimination, and despair — a handful of Badgers decided to carve out a space where any woman was welcome. With the support of economics professor Harold Groves 1919, MA1920, PhD1927, Badger co-eds realized their dream of an interracial, interreligious communal living space near campus, in the form of the Groves Housing Cooperative.

This 1952 yearbook page describes the co-op’s founding principles: “It was conceived nine years ago as a means of not only keeping the expenses of living at a minimum by cooperative maintenance, but of learning firsthand the meaning of democracy by encouraging the self-government of as many races, religions, and nationalities as possible under one roof.”

After renting different properties for a few years, the cooperative purchased a house at 1104 W. Johnson in 1946 for $25,000. With room for about 30 residents, the cooperative hosted women who were often unwelcome elsewhere, including African Americans, Jews, and international students. Such women as Adela Kalvary Owen ’54 , a Holocaust survivor; and Carolyn Konoshima, who survived Japanese American internment, found a home with other Badgers from all over Wisconsin and the world.

Groves Housing Cooperative was reorganized in 1987 and is now known as the Hypatia Cooperative House, a co-ed co-op located on N. Pinckney Street. The Groves cooperative continues to be an important part of both cooperative and social justice history at the UW. You can read more about Groves and historical housing issues on campus in the Public History Project’s digital Sifting and Reckoning exhibit.

A group photo of the 1946 residents of Groves Housing Cooperative.

The 1946 residents were the first to move into Groves’s long-term property on W. Johnson. Photo courtesy of UW Archives.

Members of Groves gathered around a piano.

A group of Groves members from 1953 gathered around the house piano. Photo courtesy of UW Archives.

A group photo of the 1954 residents of Groves Housing Cooperative.

“Groves is run completely by its 26 members, and leaking bathrooms and a temperamental furnace seem to be problems for the girls to cope with along with their academic endeavors,” according to the 1954 Badger yearbook. “The result is the practicalities of life which supplement the college education.” Photo courtesy of UW Archives.

A picture of the exterior of Groves Housing Cooperative on W. Johnson.

Groves Housing Cooperative, pictured in 1950 on W. Johnson, was relocated to 102 E. Gorham in 1963. Photo courtesy of UW Archives.

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